Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire: Top-10 Pickups for Week 14
A new week, another batch of waiver-wire additions, just the way you like 'em: hot and fresh out of the oven.
From now until the end of the fantasy season, you'll find a rundown of the top waiver-wire pickups right here every Monday as you get set to face another week of lineup decisions and roster additions.
Some players mentioned last week—including Alex Wood, Jake Odorizzi, J.D. Martinez, Scooter Gennett, C.J. Cron and Jake Arrieta—are already owned in many leagues by now, but they remain quality pickups if they're still available.
In the interest of keeping the names new, though, let's avoid any repeats. Here are the top-10 waiver-wire pickups for Week 14.
Charlie Morton, SP, Pittsburgh Pirates (6.6 Percent Owned)
Wilson Ramos, C, Washington Nationals (33.7 Percent Owned)
Jesse Hahn, SP, San Diego Padres (13.3 Percent Owned)
Yan Gomes, C, Cleveland Indians (24.6 Percent Owned)
Jarred Cosart, SP, Houston Astros (6.4 Percent Owned)
Lucas Duda, 1B/OF, New York Mets (21.9 Percent Owned)
Jeff Locke, SP, Pittsburgh Pirates (3.6 Percent Owned)
Travis d'Arnaud, C, New York Mets (1.4 Percent Owned)
- Jake McGee, RP, Tampa Bay Rays (13.7 Percent Owned)
- Jenrry Mejia, SP/RP, New York Mets (33.5 Percent Owned)
- Santiago Casilla, RP, San Francisco Giants (0.9 Percent Owned)
- Neil Ramirez, RP, Chicago Cubs (24.4 Percent Owned)
- Jeremy Affeldt, RP, San Francisco Giants (0.3 Percent Owned)
- Hector Rondon, RP, Chicago Cubs (47.0 Percent Owned)
- Joba Chamberlain, RP, Detroit Tigers (0.9 Percent Owned)
- Kevin Jepsen, RP, Los Angeles Angels (0.1 Percent Owned)
- Jean Machi, RP, San Francisco Giants (7.9 Percent Owned)
- Jake Petricka, RP, Chicago White Sox (6.7 Percent Owned)
- Javy Guerra, RP, Chicago White Sox (1.0 Percent Owned)
- Zach Putnam, RP, Chicago White Sox (1.6 Percent Owned)
- Daniel Webb, RP, Chicago White Sox (0.1 Percent Owned)
- Ernesto Frieri, RP, Pittsburgh Pirates (48.8 Percent Owned)
- Juan Carlos Oviedo, RP, Tampa Bay Rays (0.8 Percent Owned)
- Joel Peralta, RP, Tampa Bay Rays (1.4 Percent Owned)
- Darren O'Day, RP, Baltimore Orioles (2.6 Percent Owned)
- Jeurys Familia, RP, New York Mets (0.2 Percent Owned)
- Brad Ziegler, RP, Arizona Diamondbacks (1.4 Percent Owned)
- Bryan Shaw, RP, Cleveland Indians (1.4 Percent Owned)
- Ronald Belisario, RP, Chicago White Sox (23.6 Percent Owned)
- Rex Brothers, RP, Colorado Rockies (23.7 Percent Owned)
- Brad Boxberger, RP, Tampa Bay Rays (0.1 Percent Owned)
- Vic Black, RP, New York Mets (0.0 Percent Owned)
- Pedro Strop, RP, Chicago Cubs (1.6 Percent Owned)
- Joel Hanrahan, RP, Detroit Tigers (0.4 Percent Owned)
Because there's so much ninth-inning volatility, the new/overlooked/replacement/interim/potential closers who are available in the majority of leagues are ranked on this slide as follows:
No. 10: Odrisamer Despaigne, SP, San Diego Padres (7.2 Percent Owned)
If you're an NL-only owner who doen't mind pushing your luck, then Odrisamer Despaigne might be the pickup for you.
The 27-year-old Cuban, who signed with the San Diego Padres in early May (read: not even two months ago), has done rather well in his first two spot starts in place of Andrew Cashner. He followed up seven shutout frames in his debut against the San Francisco Giants last week with 6.2 innings of one-run ball on Sunday to beat the Arizona Diamondbacks for his second win.
The righty is a little Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez-esque with an exaggerated leg kick and all sorts of arm angles, but be careful: Despaigne has walked more than he's whiffed (3/4 K/BB) in his first 13.2 big league innings.
Add him for the intrigue and the Petco Park factor, but don't use him until he starts missing some bats.
No. 9: Josh Tomlin, SP, Cleveland Indians (2.0 Percent Owned)
When a pitcher hurls a complete-game shutout while striking out 11 and allowing just one hit, he deserves a mention, especially amid a relatively quiet waiver-wire week. Hence, Josh Tomlin is here after doing that on Saturday night in a road win over the Seattle Mariners.
The Cleveland Indians right-hander, 29, isn't a hard thrower, nor does he have great stuff. When he's on, though, Tomlin gets good movement and couples that with great control (1.3 BB/9) to put together solid starts. In fact, he's made 10 starts this year and has given up more than three earned runs just twice.
With a 3.78 ERA, 1.10 WHIP and 8.1 K/9, Tomlin is pitching at his peak right now. But while he's hot, he might be worth a spot start against the Kansas City Royals on Friday.
No. 8: Eric Young Jr., OF, New York Mets (16.9 Percent Owned)
This isn't a recommendation that you go out and snatch up Eric Young Jr. off the waiver wire so much as it is a reminder that the speedster made it back in mid-June after missing 22 games with a strained right hamstring and has resumed stealing bases as usual. For some proof, just check out the above video.
Young could be squeezed for playing time a bit because Juan Lagares also returned over the weekend, but New York Mets manager Terry Collins seems to have a fascination with E.Y., which could lead to the latter playing enough to threaten 40 steals for the second year in a row. Remember, Young did lead the NL with 46 swipes in 2013.
Only add Young if you're desperate for stolen bases going forward.
No. 7: Lorenzo Cain, OF, Kansas City Royals (26.2 Percent Owned)
If you'd prefer an outfielder who's capable of acting as an off-day or injury fill-in but also possesses a little broader set of skills than does Young, perhaps Lorenzo Cain would be of interest.
The 28-year-old has been fairly steady for most of 2014—his batting average has stayed at .301 or better since May 23—and he's been going well of late. Cain is 19-for-48 (.396) over his past dozen games, and just as important, he's been slotted in at the leadoff spot in each of the team's past seven contests. If that continues, Cain has it in him to be a borderline starting outfielder in leagues that start five at the position.
Of course, it would help if the Kansas City Royals hitters behind him could drive him in when he gets on base; even with a 4-for-5 showing on Sunday, Cain was able to record two RBI, but he had no runs scored.
No. 6: Marcus Stroman, SP/RP, Toronto Blue Jays (6.5 Percent Owned)
Marcus Stroman checks in right behind a pair of more proven pitchers, but the former first-rounder who entered 2014 as arguably the Toronto Blue Jays' top prospect undoubtedly has more upside than either of them.
The 23-year-old Stroman has been up and down in his rookie season so far, but he's been much more consistent as a starter after breaking in as a reliever in early May. To wit, Stroman owns a 4.01 ERA, 1.22 WHIP and 7.6 K/9 in his first 42.2 big league innings, but his numbers are much nicer in his six starts: 2.48 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 7.9 K/9.
Stroman has also thrown a quality start in five of those six turns since joining the five-man at the very end of May. That includes six innings against the Chicago White Sox on Saturday in which he allowed just two runs on two hits with a 6/2 K/BB. There will be bumps in the road, but there will be some cruising, too.
No. 5: Jose Quintana, SP, Chicago White Sox (7.2 Percent Owned)
What do fantasy owners have against Jose Quintana? All the man does is pitch well, as his 3.44 ERA (career best), 1.28 WHIP and 7.7 K/9 (career best) show.
And all that gets him is ignored. The 25-year-old southpaw isn't doing this with smoke and mirrors, either—just take a look at his 3.02 FIP.
Quintana continues to be a quality-start machine, with 13 of his 17 outings qualifying for that distinction. That includes Sunday night's performance in which he went seven scoreless innings with five baserunners allowed and seven strikeouts against the Toronto Blue Jays.
Look for him to continue the trend against the Seattle Mariners on Saturday.
No. 4: Mike Leake, SP, Cincinnati Reds (23.7 Percent Owned)
Consider Mike Leake the NL's version of Quintana: an underrated starter who fantasy folks ain't appreciatin'.
The 26-year-old is in the middle of his best season, with a 3.41 ERA, 1.15 ERA and 7.0 K/9, the last of which is a respectable rate for the first time in Leake's five years in the Bigs.
After just owning the Toronto Blue Jays and San Francisco Giants (video above) over his past two starts (2 W, 16.0 IP, 8 H, 2 ER, 18/3 K/BB), Leake is lined up for a third straight dominant turn, as the right-hander will throw in Petco Park against the lifeless San Diego Padres on Tuesday.
Add him now; maybe you'll get a no-hitter!
No. 3: Mookie Betts, 2B/OF, Boston Red Sox (0.0 Percent Owned)
Here's the big call-up of the week. Not only is Mookie Betts one of the very best prospects in the highly rated Boston Red Sox farm system, but he was also having himself quite the campaign in the minors this year.
Only 21, the righty-swinging Betts, who checks in at 5'9", 156 pounds, posted a slash line of .345/.437/.520 in 77 games between Double-A and Triple-A this season. He totaled 33 extra-base hits, including eight homers, as well as 70 runs and 29 steals.
Perhaps most impressive, though, was his 33/55 K/BB that looks backward but isn't. No wonder Boston brought him up hoping to spark a dormant offense that ranks as the fifth-worst in baseball in terms of runs scored.
The other thing to know about Betts, who went 1-for-3 with a walk in his MLB debut on Sunday Night Baseball against the New York Yankees (see video), is that he's a natural second baseman who's been shifted to the outfield, where he's not blocked by Dustin Pedroia.
There's a good deal more fantasy value here if Betts has second base eligibility in your league, which would give him a chance to be a starting middle infield option. If not, his contact skills, plate discipline and speed could make him a useful starting outfielder, even in shallow formats.
Before plugging him in, however, let's see how he fares out of the gate.
No. 2: Kole Calhoun, OF, Los Angeles Angels (34.3 Percent Owned)
If you read this column regularly, you should be plenty familiar with Kole Calhoun by now. And if that's the case, then here's a question: Why haven't you picked him up yet? And even for those of you who haven't checked in here before, the same question applies.
Calhoun, 26, has had himself a fantastic month of June, hitting .346 with 20 runs, four homers, 13 RBI and a steal chipped in. He's been especially hot over the last 10 games (15-for-40, .375) to raise his season average to .284.
Oh, and he's now the everyday leadoff hitter for the Los Angeles Angels, whose offense ranks in the top seven in the sport in runs (fourth), average (sixth), on-base percentage (seventh) and slugging (fourth). That's why Calhoun has scored 36 runs in his 46 games, and it is a big reason why he should be owned in all leagues.
No. 1: Taijuan Walker, SP, Seattle Mariners (10.4 Percent Owned)
Getting here has taken a lot longer than expected for Taijuan Walker, one of baseball's best pitching prospects. And "here" in this case means pitching for the Seattle Mariners.
You see, the 21-year-old was supposed to be a member of the club's Opening Day rotation after tearing through Double-A and Triple-A last year (2.93 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 10.2 K/9) and then pitching well in his first three big league starts last September (3.60 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 7.2 K/9).
Those plans had to be scrapped, though, when Walker came down with shoulder soreness in spring training and then had a setback upon looking just about ready to return weeks later.
Now? Well, he appears to be healthy—his first career complete-game shutout in his eighth and final rehab start last week is evidence of that (highlight above)—and will make his 2014 debut on Monday against the Houston Astros. The Astros offense is better than you might think, but it's still a very strikeout-prone lineup, so if you wanted to add and activate Walker right away, it could pay off.
Looking beyond Monday, as long as he's healthy, Walker has the goods to be a near-every-time-out starter in fantasy. At the very least, he is a strong matchup play when pitching at Safeco Field. With all of his injury issues, he very well could be available in your league—at least, until you pick him up after reading this.
To talk baseball or fantasy baseball, check in with me on Twitter: @JayCat11